Faith, Hope, and Love Part 2: Hope
Faith Hope and Love: Hope
This week we continue our series on Faith, Hope, and Love. I want to make it very clear what hope actually is and remove the vagueness that we tend to toss around these words. First a definition:
Hope /hōp/ noun
1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
And the opposite:
Hopeless - noun:
a : having no expectation of good or success : despairing
b : not susceptible to remedy or cure
c : incapable of redemption or improvement
The South Carolina motto is “While I breathe, I hope.”
Hope is a powerful force in your life. It can change your outlook from negative to positive. When your attitude about something changes, so will your circumstances.
Hope protects our mind.
Paul wrote: (1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV) “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
So faith and love protect our heart, while hope protects our mind. It is armor against the attacks of the enemy. The enemy knows that a hopeless person, is a weak person and easy prey. When things get tough, they have nothing left to keep them going. There is no endurance.
The enemy will often attack our mind and once he has a foothold, then use us to destroy our own life around us. The helmet of hope, the belief that God loves us, and something good will come out of this yet, keeps us from spiraling downward when things get bad.
The Effects of Hope:
I received a letter from one of our readers a while back explaining how he had been in a bad motorcycle accident and severely damaged his back. He felt that his life was over, and he began to spiral down into depression and thoughts of suicide.
The doctors put him on different anti-depressants, but they only succeeded in making him into a monster. Eventually his wife left him, and his family would no longer even come around him. Finally he decided to end it all and take 100 pain pills at once.
Somehow around that time, he got signed up for our Daily Devotional. When he was at his lowest point, the devotional came in and it got his attention. He later wrote this in his letter to me:
“I was so amazed. It was like whoever sent them knew every little detail of what I was going through. Every morning I would anxiously open my email, read the devotional, and it was spot on. The messages have been so powerful and have fueled the fire of hope within me.”
He got off the anti-depressants and his family noticed an immediate improvement. Over the next couple of months, he and God began to put his life back together again and restore the lost relationships.
This man went from a very dark time in his life where he was alone, depressed, and suicidal, to getting back up, and pulling his life together because his hope returned.
Hope and Hopelessness. One takes you up, the other takes you down.
That is the goal of Refreshing Hope Ministries, to restore hope to the body of Christ, to put our helmet back on. While I breathe, I hope.
Like plowing a field with a horse, if we can keep the horses head pointed in the right direction, the rest of it will follow. You must guard your thought life.
Hope after divorce:
I have seen some of the dark side of life. When I was about 16, I was staying with my dad when he fell off a scaffold at work and got pretty broken up. So he married a nurse that he had been dating and moved in with her. That left me living by myself with a full time job, a house, and a car payment at 16 years old.
Dad and me were very close and he convinced me that I needed someone there to cook and such, so he signed for me to get married to a girl that I had just met. By 17 I was married and working full time to pay the bills. I will summarize this and just say that some people bring out the best in you, and some bring out the worst. She brought out the worst in me and all the bad things that she said about me, are probably true and then some.
Over the years it continued to decline until I reached a point where I no longer had the will to live. We were trapped in a poisonous relationship where we despised each other, but the church and parents made escape seem impossible. I became hopeless and lethargic. My Dad noticed how bad it had gotten and convinced me to see a doctor, who then put me on anti-depressants. That merely masked the problems.
Eventually I would come in from work, go into my room, lay my .45 on the desk and dare anyone to knock on the door. It was no longer a question of if, but when. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a busy street with traffic noise and horns blowing, and the slightest noise set me off. It was a dark, depressed, chaotic state of mind. The absence of all hope. How bad can that be? Really bad…
Like an injured animal in a cage, I just curled up in a corner and wanted to be left alone, and I would bite you if you came near me. In the span of one year my business burned to the ground during an insurance lapse, my Dad passed away, and with Dad no longer talking me out of it, I filed for divorce.
One day I kind of woke up from the anti-depressants and just took a trash bag and piled all my clothes in it, and that is what I left with. I left a new home that I had paid for, kids, pets, guitars, and cars, and at 35 I started life over with nothing but my clothes. I thought well, I may burn in hell and be banned from the church, but thank God I am out that.
I was positive that I had now wrecked God’s plan for my life and resolved that if I was lucky, I might still be saved. Completely to my surprise, the Lord began to rebuild my life from the ashes. I found that I had a lot of relearning to do about God, His love, and His mercy. Something that I learned:
1) God throws no one away.
2) God throws no one away.
Today, God has restored everything that I lost with something better. I have a wife today that loves me, and I love her. Marriage is such a beautiful thing, but even if it fails, I want you to know that there is still life after divorce. The best years of my life began after one.
Some notes on divorce:
- I am not promoting divorce. Scripture makes it very clear that we should try and make marriage work, but you can be unequally yoked, and if you look around you, it is easy to see that marriages don’t always work out. What I am saying is that no matter what happens, there is still hope for the both of you.
- Many people blacklist those that have been through a divorce, and yes, God hates divorce (Mal.2:16), but I believe that those preaching against it the hardest never came home and found the windows beaten out of their car, or profanity spray painted all over it by their spouse, repeatedly. You don’t know what someone is like until you live with them behind closed doors. So you should let them live their life, and you live yours.
- Personally, I thank God for divorce. It gave me a second chance on life and was the ultimate anti-depressant. Yes I know that is a hard word coming from a pastor but if you are shocked, perhaps you have not been where I have been. I am so very thankful for the life that God has given me today.
- God never let me be in the ministry until I had gotten out of that relationship. Shocking? Yea, it was to me to when He later pushed me into ministry… I was absolutely certain that I had ruined His plan for my life years ago, but contrary to what I was taught, He never gave up on me.
A word of wisdom for the married:
- If you want your spouse to stay with you, treat them right. They are not your property and they live with you because they choose to. They can just as easily choose to live their life with someone else.
- Salt: Like throwing salt on a wound over and over, each time that you hurt them, it hurts a little bit less… One day you won’t hurt them at all.
- God will still love them even if they leave you… He will not make them stay with you against their will. You have to make them want to live with you.
Hope is an anchor:
The author of Hebrews wrote: (Hebrews 6:19 NKJV) “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”
Hope is the anchor of our soul. An anchor keeps a ship from drifting, not just during storms, but from the every day tides of the ocean. I can tell you from experience that a boat without an anchor will gradually drift away.
This is putting our soul on a leash and saying that you will only move so far. I will only get so depressed, only so far. This will not sweep me away. You will only cry about something so long, then you are going to reel it back in.
Humans are a three part being. We live eternally as a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions.
When your hope is not in God, your soul will be tossed to and fro by the storms of life. However, when you are anchored in God and His Word, your soul, your mind, will, and emotions can find a place of stability even in the worst of situations.
Paul wrote: (Titus 2:11–14 NKJV) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
- The Hope of all Christians is the return of Jesus Christ.
- That hope motivates holy living.
- Hope takes us beyond time. We live in time, but hope does not.
Faith, Hope and Love:
Paul wrote: (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV) “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Paul was not saying that Faith and Hope are unimportant. Each one is different and cannot take the place of another. Love cannot take the place of hope, nor faith. Each one of the three are important to us and we should understand them. We cannot receive the rewards of faith by using hope or love.
Hope looks to the future. It is always future tense. Faith is now. Faith says, “I’ll receive the answer right now. I have it now.” It is not hoping that gets the job done, it is believing.
Our salvation comes to us through faith, not hope. We do not “hope we are saved.”
Ephesians 2:8, 9:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV)
Romans 10:9, 10, 13:
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10 NKJV)
“For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NKJV).
The above verses point us to the plan of salvation. We see that it is by faith – not hope – that we are saved. Jesus promised that He will not cast any out who come to Him, but will save all who “call upon the name of the Lord.” Therefore, we don’t need to hope that He will save us. He said that He would.
We don’t receive things through praying in hope: Jesus told us:
(Mark 11:24 NKJV) “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Hope is beautiful and has its own place in our life. We have hope that the Lord Jesus will soon return, that the righteous dead will be resurrected, that we will see loved ones that have passed on once again, that heaven awaits us.
Hope tells us that God still has a plan for us, that there is something good coming, that this will work our for my good, that God isn’t done with me yet. It helps us hang on another day. It is a progression.
Many times we go from Hopelessness, to Hope, and then to Faith.
John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish (desire), and it will be done for you…”
If we keep seeking God about something, hope will turn to faith, and our desire to a reality. Hope is the first step in our receiving ‘things’ from God. For, ‘faith is the (ownership or reality) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not (yet) seen.’
So how do we pray for healing?
(1 Peter 2:24 NKJV) “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
Pray, Believe, Thank Him: Father I thank You for healing me. I know that I am healed by the stripes that Jesus took for me. It is already done, and I thank You for it. I thank You for healing me today in the name of Jesus.
Continue to thank Him for healing you until it manifests in the physical realm.
(1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV) “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
The first main difference between faith and hope is that faith is in the heart, while hope is in the mind. The second main difference between faith and hope is that faith is in the present, while hope is always in the future.
Faith is believing that you have it now. Hope is that it will some day come.
Faith is a substance, something that is already here; hope is an expectation, something that looks toward the future.
Hopes that are based on true faith within the heart will never be disappointed. However, without this basis, there is no assurance that our hopes will be fulfilled. Faith is what causes things to happen in our life. When like Noah, we believe God enough to get out our toolbox.
Hope is God’s appointed protection for our minds, but it will not obtain for us those results that God has promised only to faith. The key to obtaining what we ask from God is to receive it by faith at the very moment that we ask Him. Doing this sets us free from the continual struggle and anxiety, and it brings us into an inner rest about the matter.
Hope tells us that God still has a plan for us, that there is something good coming, that this will work our for my good, that God isn’t done with me yet. It helps us hang on for another day.